All You Need To Know About I-Visa -Media and Journalist Visa - Fakaza Jobs

All You Need To Know About I-Visa -Media and Journalist Visa

The United States, in a bid to support the media and spreading of news across the globe, has launched a visa solely for this purpose. The I visa is best described as a visa that permits journalists and people who work in the information or media sector to finish up their work while they are in the United States. 

In this article, we will be looking at a wide range of sub-topics that are related to the I visa ranging from the eligibility criteria to the process of application to every other detail about it. 

What is the meaning of an I visa?

As we earlier stated, this is a temporary US visa tailor-made for all journalists and other media workers who want to go to the United States to do media-related jobs. This implies that these are vigorously engaged in gathering and distributing information on present news events in the United States. Nevertheless, one of the criteriums is that they must be gainfully employed in a media company or organization based outside the United States. Invariably, the organization must be foreign, and the media workers are not entitled to work for a company in the U.S after getting an I visa.

Jobs that are related to the media qualify for the I visa; nevertheless, to in a bid to make it more clear, the government of the United States has defined who is qualified to get this visa, like:

  • If you work in an independent production company that possesses foreign journalistic credentials and are willing to film events that are related to present news or a documentary.
  • If you produce or distribute a film that is about recent news information or is educational and the film must be sponsored by a company not based in the U.S.
  • If you are a journalist in possession of a contract gotten from a foreign media or journalistic company and are willing to gather news that is informative and not for commercial purposes.
  • If you are a journalist who is going to the U.S intending to gather news information covering a current event in the United States, moreover, the news information must be geared towards a foreign audience.
  • If you represent a bureau of tourism and have valid accreditation, you can be financed partially by a foreign government, and the aim of your visit must be to gather touristic information about the United States.
  • If you are someone that works in a company that disseminates technical industrial information, you are eligible to work in the United State offices of that company.
  • If you fall under the category of journalistic freelancers and have a valid work contract gotten from a foreign media company. 

If you do not belong to any of the aforementioned categories, then you have to obtain a different type of visa that is not an I visa. 

If your job is for instance a librarian, proofreader, or set designer, then you have to apply for temporary U.S work visas like the H visa, O visa, or P visa.

In addition to this, certain occupations require a visitor visa (B-1 visa or B-2 visa) to finish up their work like:

  • If you wish to attend seminars, conventions, conferences, or meetings as a participant and not a reporter.
  • If you are to lecture, speak, or engage in an academic activity in a higher institution though it must not exceed 9 days for one institution, and you must not receive pay from more than 5 institutions.
  • If you are on a vacation or taking a trip within the U.S but not reporting the events of this trip
  • If you wish to carry out an independent research
  • If you want to take photographs but will not be paid for them by a company in the United States.

Please note that we are aware that certain citizens of some countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program, however, if you are a media worker who intends to go to the United States for informational purposes, must get an I visa because if you are found conducting activities related to the I visa whereas you entered the U.S through the Visa Waiver Program, you will be denied entry and returned to your home country.

An I-visa holder aside from carrying out his/her duties is permitted to register in some university courses but cannot register in a full academic program, and cannot work for a U.S company.

How can I apply for the I-visa?

The application process is no different from every other U.S non-immigrant visas. All you need to do is first apply to the closest U.S Embassy office, and then take the steps listed below:

Fill and complete Form DS-160

You have to fill and complete the aforementioned form which will contain your personal information, the reason for your visit, and any other thing that needs to be known. You will be issued a confirmation code and page upon submission of the form which you have to present later.

You should submit a photograph that meets the Photo Requirements standard

Feel free to look at our article about visa photo requirements because if your passport photographs do not meet the U.S standard, they will be rejected and this will result in the delay of your application. 

You have to pay the necessary application fee

Irrespective of what the decision of the U.S visa is, this visa fee for the I visa which is $160 is non-refundable. There are other fees you may have to pay which are called reciprocity or visa issuance fees aside from the application fee. These fees to a large extent depend on the relationship between your home country and the United States. Ensure that you keep all your receipts intact after paying all the necessary fees because you will need them later.

Schedule your visa interview

Once you are between the age of 14 and 79, you must attend a visa interview with the U.S Embassy as an applicant. But you have to schedule this interview, and we advise that you do this on time to mitigate having to wait for a long period because the U.S Embassy might have a heavy workload. You will receive a visa appointment letter notifying you that you have successfully scheduled your appointment, and remember to bring it along with you on the interview date, attaching it to your documents.

Gather your document file before the date of your interview

The file that you will bring along with you to the interview must contain the documents listed below to support your request for this visa and these documents are:
  • Bring your valid passport that meets the U.S standard
  • Bring your Form DS-160 confirmation page and code
  • Remember to bring the receipts which will serve as proof that all applicable fees have been paid.
  • Bring your visa appointment letter that was issued to you after scheduling your interview.
  • Get a copy of a letter from your employer explaining in clear terms the reason for your stay in the U.S which must be categorized under the I visa activities. In this letter also, the length of stay and duration of your work contract, and also your personal information must be added.
  • Your qualifications to show that you fall under the I visa category:
    • Work contracts
    • Journalistic accreditations
    • Press card
    • Previously published articles
  • Medical documents to prove that you are healthy and void of any communicable disease
  • Documents to prove that there are no past criminal records attached to your name

You will be asked questions about your health, character, previous criminal records (if any), previous U.S visas you have had, and any other related questions during the interview. Make sure to carefully listen before you answer to avoid inconsistencies in your replies, also, lies will not be entertained. Before the end of your interview, the U.S embassy official must have made a decision, but you have to wait for the processing to know your fate. 

How long does the I visa processing time take?

You will have to wait for your visa to be processed as we said earlier after going through the interview process but the I visa is generally processed within 10 days after your application. Nevertheless, this time frame is not constant, it varies depending on the workload of the Embassy. You will certainly receive a letter to bring to your notice if you were successful or not.  

How long is the I visa said to be valid?

The validity of the I visa solely depends on the period you will have to work in the U.S, therefore, if for instance, your work contract indicates that you will need to be in the U.S as a journalist for 6 months, it means that your I visa will be valid for just  6 months. 

However, If you still have work to do and your I visa is getting close to its expiration date, you can request extensions by filing Form I-539 for any extensions. Also, you should note that the extension period lasts for only one year, interestingly, you are not limited to a certain number of extensions but you must prove why your work contract should still be extended.

Is it possible for my dependents to accompany me with an I visa?

Of course, your dependents can come with you when you are an I visa holder. These dependents include your spouse and your single children below the age of 21 years old, also they are expected to apply either at the same time as you or after you have been issued your visa.

Furthermore, they prove that they are related to you by presenting proof of a relationship like a marriage certificate for the spouse, and the children, valid birth certificates. If they apply after you must have been issued your I visa, they are obligated to submit a copy of your valid I visa.

In addition to this, your dependents are permitted to register in an academic study with an I visa but are not allowed to t work any jobs. When you also extend your visa or update your status, if your dependents must remain in the country, they must do the same.

In conclusion, we have done justice to all there is to an I visa, we hope that we have been able to answer all questions you might have about this visa type.

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